Hilton Acquiring Graduate Hotels for $210 Million, Cementing Footprint in College Towns

Hilton announced a $210 deal with AJ Capital to acquire the Graduate Hotels® brand, further propelling Hilton to become a leading player in university cities across the United States. As part of the deal, the hotel giant will secure franchise agreements for all Graduate Hotels that exist and are signed into the pipeline. Hilton will own all rights to the Graduate Hotels and be responsible for the brand’s future development and growth. However, AJ Capital will retain ownership of 35-plus Graduate Hotel properties, both existing and under development. Those properties will operate under long-term franchise agreements with Hilton. 

“Adding Graduate Hotels to our portfolio of award-winning brands accelerates our expansion in the lifestyle space by pairing an existing much-loved brand with the power of Hilton’s strong commercial engine to drive growth,” said Chris Nassetta, CEO and President of Hilton. “We have long had a high bar for adding brands to our portfolio, whether organically or through acquisition, and Graduate will be another driver of growth for us, presenting a unique opportunity to serve more guests in more sought-after destinations. With thousands of colleges and universities around the world, we believe the addressable market for the Graduate brand is 400-500 hotels globally.” 

Founded 10 years ago, Graduate Hotels is relatively new in the hospitality industry. The brand has grown exponentially throughout the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Adding the Nashville, Tennessee-based hotel brand to Hilton’s already extensive portfolio will bring millions of travelers to popular university towns in the U.S. and the UK, including Ann Arbor, Knoxville, New Haven, Berkeley, Princeton, Chapel Hill Cambridge, Oxford, and more.   

“We’re proud to embark on this new chapter for Graduate Hotels with Hilton, the ideal partner to steer the brand’s continued growth,” said Ben Weprin, AJ Capital CEO and Graduate Hotels Founder. “Both Hilton and Graduate Hotels are committed to delivering exceptional experiences and making a positive impact on communities. Our shared values and close collaboration will ensure a smooth transition while keeping the Graduate Hotels’ unique brand identity intact. With Hilton’s extensive network behind us, guests can anticipate even more exciting opportunities. We’re certain this partnership will propel Graduate Hotels to even greater heights, while AJ’s ongoing ownership of the real estate assets lays a strong foundation for our future success.” 

Future guests of Graduate Hotels will be able to book their stays through Hilton toward the end of the year and will also be able to access exclusive member discounts and other perks of Hilton’s loyalty program, Hilton Honors®. Once it meets the provisions of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, the deal is expected to close during the second quarter of this year. 

Learn more about Hilton’s loyalty program, Hilton Honors®, here: https://www.hilton.com/en/hilton-honors/  


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